President, CEO, Jackie Robinson Foundation, New York City
To say Della Britton Baeza can survive in a man’s world would be an understatement. As the only girl of six children, she learned how to hold her own among her brothers in an atmosphere she describes as “healthy competition.” “As competitive as it was amongst us, it was a healthy competition, and we were very supportive of each other, which is ultimately a testament to my parents,” says Baeza, president and chief executive officer of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
The foundation was established 31 years ago to provide scholarships to students of color to enable them to attend college. Baeza’s duties include oversight of the foundation’s fund-raising efforts and expanding its outreach and exposure nationwide. She is especially proud of “the daily efforts I make to try to bridge what is still a great racial divide in our society,” she says.
Baeza has been involved in projects related to interracial understanding since she was in college. “We still have a long way to go to increase true understanding among ethnic groups and more honest dialogue is sorely needed,” she says. “While ‘outcasting’ is obviously a centuries-old phenomenon, we as Americans are positioned to keep struggling to reduce the impact of racial and ethnic intolerance,” she adds.
Her belief in the virtues of cultural understanding extends to her personal life. She chose to live with her family in Merida, Mexico, for two years. Because her husband is Cuban, she felt it was important to immerse her three children in their father’s Latin culture, she explains.
Baeza wishes she could spend more time visiting and enjoying her close family and friends. “It seems that the pace at which many of us live leaves little room to spend relaxed, unencumbered time with those to whom we are closest,” she says. “I would try to remedy that as much possible,” she adds.